Executive Member Portfolio Update (Agenda Item 6)
The Executive Member for Communications, Organisational Performance and Development, will be invited to attend the meeting to update Members on key ongoing issues and policies within their portfolio and to answer any questions.
The Executive Member for Communications, Organisational Development and Performance was unable to attend. The Deputy Chief Executive (DCE) gave Members the Portfolio update on his behalf.
The DCE suggested that as Performance was an area within the Portfolio, he would cover the next agenda item within the briefing. He then went on to give a brief overview of the work being carried out.
Organisational Development was driving the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy. The Business Development Manager had recently left the Authority and Rob Blanden had been appointed as his Interim replacement. Efficiencies were being identified and then incorporated into the budget. Part of that process was using the information gathered by the Could We Should We survey.
The Council was undergoing two forms of transformation, one shared with South Holland and the other specific to Breckland. A programme of projects and initiatives was being looked at by Members assisted by Managers to prioritise them to ensure maximum value. The draft programme was expected to be ready by the end of September and would be seen by CMT and then the Commission.
Communications were busy raising the Council’s profile. The Festival on the Farm had been a great success and the use of social media was being increased as a tool for passing on information. An internal questionnaire was currently being circulated to determine the best way of communicating information to staff.
Performance Management was an area currently under review. Performance Plus, the shared system with South Holland had not been considered to be fit for purpose and its use had ceased. Other means of providing a wider Corporate Management system to incorporate additional services and maximise economies of scale were being investigated. Officers were already working on providing the new system and a draft Project plan was in place and the system was expected to go live for quarter three – September to December 2013. It would include projects and performance indicators and also risks and audit recommendations as well to give a fuller picture. The first live report was expected in January.
Councillor Gilbert acknowledged that the Council was good at getting its message out to the public. He asked how the Member / Officer protocol was getting on and the DCE advised that having been approved by the Member Development Panel a full training programme had been developed and was being delivered to all Breckland staff to raise awareness of the role of Members and the importance of communicating with them. The aim of the training was to ensure Officers knew the importance of informing Members of matters occurring within their Wards and thereby equipping them to fulfil their role in the community.
Councillor Bambridge asked whether there was any intention to reinstate the Business Improvement Sub-Committee and the Star Chamber and whether backbench Members could be involved.
The DCE explained that as part of the Performance Management system there was a governance framework which included a Performance Board which met quarterly and would critically challenge underperforming areas. That was already in place. There would also be a Programme Board with a similar governance framework which would look at each Portfolio and it would be up to the Portfolio Holder to decide on wider Member involvement in that.
The Vice-Chairman thought it was a poor show that the Executive Member had not been able to attend and that his Executive Support Member had not attended in his place either.
The Chairman advised that it had been difficult timing with the new Leader of the Council and the potential for changes to the Executive. He noted that the Performance Board should report to the Commission quarterly and that they would want to see the reports before they went to Council. He thanked the DCE for the update.